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Early Arrival: Chaotic Attempts to Meet Reunification Deadline in New York

Friday's Edition of Early Arrival: Meeting Reunification Deadline in NY Proves Chaotic – Questions Remain on Unification Compliance – Appropriations Pushes Back on Trump

Felipe De La Hoz

Jul 27, 2018

Rally in Brooklyn protesting the government's zero tolerance policy.

According to New York officials, the federal government’s efforts to reunify children who were separated from their parents at the border and brought to the state — in advance of a Thursday nationwide deadline ordered by a federal judge — was chaotic and ineffective.

On a press conference call, Gov. Andrew Cuomo described one botched attempt by personnel from the Cayuga Center shelter to place children in their care on flights out of the state, presumably to be reunited with their parents. Fourteen children were taken to LaGuardia airport, where staff found that only seven had actually been booked on an outgoing flight. The other seven were then taken to Westchester County airport, where it was discovered two were slated to fly. The remaining five were then taken back to Cayuga after having been driven around all night.

Ultimately, it turned out the whole ordeal had been the result of an administrative error that indicated the children were not cleared to fly. They, along with others, remain in Cayuga and other shelters around New York. Despite the government’s claims that it has met the deadline, hundreds of children have been deemed ineligible for reunification by the government, either due to supposed concerns about their safety if returned to their parents, inability to confirm family ties, or even because their parents have been deported.

Multiple vans idled outside of Cayuga’s centers in Harlem, and children were seen clambering aboard, but neither the city or state had too much information about where they were heading or if they were being taken directly to see their parents. According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city has never known exactly how many children taken from their parents were housed in New York City. The New York TimesTelemundo

Good morning, and welcome to Early Arrival. I’m Felipe De La Hoz, here to take you through the latest in local and national immigration news and analysis. If you have feedback, suggestions, tips or leads, reach out at felipe.delahoz@documentedny.com or on Twitter.

We’re always looking for deeply reported work on immigration in New York. If you have story ideas and are interested in writing for us, reach out at pitches@documentedny.com.

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Ellis Island

Symbolic Packing
A pair of underwear. Rocks. A flute. A baseball mitt. These were some of the items New Yorkers brought to the Deportee Suitcase March at 26 Federal Plaza on Thursday. Attendees were asked to bring one item they would pack if they were deported from the U.S. ICE allows deportees to take one 25-pound suitcase, which forces immigrants to make difficult decisions. Hundreds gathered at the march, which was organized by the New Sanctuary Coalition. Some carried suitcase shaped signs with demands such as, “We demand the abolition of family prisons and family detention.” The were events surrounding the plaza, with speakers gathered on the steps at Lafayette Street around suitcases that contained art installations. Around the corner, there was live music and theater. Mazin Sidahmed for Documented

NJ School Districts Face Suit Over Enrollment of Undocumented Residents’ Children
Eleven New Jersey school districts and one charter school are facing lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey because they require parents or guardians to present a driver’s license or a state ID in order to be able to enroll their children into school. Given that these are documents that most undocumented immigrants can’t get, the ACLU-NJ is arguing that the schools are, by default, preventing undocumented people from being able to send their kids to those schools, in violation of a 1982 Supreme Court decision that forbids school districts from restricting admission based on immigration status. Thirteen previously filed cases were resolved with school districts agreeing to change their policies. NJ.com

NJ Businesses Among Those to be Audited
ICE confirmed that during a nationwide operation last week that saw some arrests around the country, 75 New Jersey businesses were also served with notices that their business records would be audited to check for undocumented immigrants who might have been hired. The audits will especially focus on whether any of the businesses’ employees is using a false or appropriated social security numbers or other documentation. The businesses, which were not identified, will have to turn over employment records as part of creating what ICE calls a “culture of compliance.” NJ.com

NYPD Swells with Immigrant Ranks
Local law enforcement’s ranks aren’t just Irish and Italian anymore, with 21 percent of the 2,800 NYPD officers hired in the past two years having been born in one of 77 countries. While the majority entered the United States through the visa lottery or family reunification processes, some were actually undocumented at one point, like Sgt. Leonel Ramos, an 11-year veteran of the police force whose parents smuggled him across the border as a baby. Ramos’s service in the AIr Force helped him secure his citizenship before joining the NYPD. NY1 also caught up with Deputy Inspector Flerida Veras, who is the commanding officer of the 41st Precinct, in the Bronx, and the highest-ranking Dominican woman in the NYPD. NY1

Immigrants’ In-Person Hearings Halted in NYC, Dems ask why, Law360

City Relocates Refugee and Immigrant Job Center to Long Island City, Long Island City Post

Play NYC Will Feature Games from First-Generation Immigrant Developers, Variety

Detained Pizza Deliveryman Speaks After Being Reunited with Family on Long Island, WABC-TV

This Restaurant Gives Refugees a Chance at a new Life, New York Post


It has been 111 days since Memphis-based journalist Manuel Durán was detained by immigration authorities after first being arrested by the Memphis Police Department while covering a protest. Documented will keep a running tally of how long Durán remains in detention.

Government Claims Unification Compliance, but Many Questions Remain
The government declared on Thursday that it had met the court-imposed deadline for reunifications of separated children and parents as a class, but plenty of questions remained over what its numbers meant. It was able to definitively say that that 1,442 children between the ages of 5 and 17 were reunited with a parent before the deadline; 378 children were released from ORR custody either to a parent who had already been released from ICE custody, another close relative, or on their own, though it’s not clear how many are in each subcategory; and 711 children are still in government custody and have not been reunified for a host of reasons, including 79 whose parents were released into the interior of the country by ICE and have apparently not been located, 120 parents who have waived their right to reunification, and at least 431 children whose parents had already been deported. The ACLU claims this number is actually higher, and it’s not clear what the government’s plan is to help reunify these families who are now in different countries. There is also the possibility that the government may try to deport hundreds of the reunified families in the coming weeks, so the ACLU is asking a judge to stop all deportations for this group for at least seven days. Vox

For Reunified Families, now Comes the Asylum Process Minefield
Families that have now been reunified get to celebrate only briefly before starting to worry about the next piece treacherous terrain in their ordeals in the United States: winning asylum in a system where it is increasingly difficult to prove a claim. Even those who did not sign any voluntary departure papers because they were promised reunification or didn’t understand what they were reading face an uphill climb against an asylum processing system that has recently seen a deprioritization of people making gang and domestic violence claims that the majority many of the immigrants are making. The trauma suffered during the separations can make the ability to prepare for a case that much harder. Reuters

Migrants Still Being Prevented from Making Asylum Claims at Ports of Entry
Border Patrol agents manning crossing points at the Southwest border continue to turn migrants away even when they are presenting themselves at a lawful entry point to request asylum, as is their right under domestic and international law. Dozens of migrants are camped out near or on bridges connecting the two countries, in oppressive heat, while Border Patrol officers stand at the points dividing the United States and Mexico and prevent them from entering to present asylum claims. One pregnant woman said that agents had told counterparts on the Mexican side of the border to arrest her after she was turned away from the point of entry, and told her that asylum did not exist anymore. Al Jazeera

Agreements Between ICE and Municipalities are Easy to Undo
The agreements between the federal government and municipalities around the country that allow data-sharing, the use of local jails to hold ICE detainees, and the deputizing of local officials as federal immigration enforcement officers are apparently pretty easy to dissolve on short notice, and municipalities are exploring the option. California’s Contra Costa County was able to end a detention agreement with ICE by simply giving 120 days notice. Many of the contracts have been active in some form or another, largely unchanged, for years, and can be terminated with as little as 30 days notice. Now, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is considering ending an arrest data-sharing agreement the city has with ICE. WHYY

Protests Highlight Financial Framework of Immigration Enforcement
Eight people were arrested outside of the Manhattan home of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon on Wednesday after arriving to protest the bank’s financing of the private prison corporations CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO Group, following a similar Tuesday protest outside the home of a Wells Fargo board member. These two banks, as well as the private financial firm BlackRock, hold millions of dollars of debt from the two prison companies, effectively allowing them to continue operations and seek contracts with the government to house thousands of detained immigrants. CNN

Border Patrol Arrests Canadian man at Spokane Intermodal Center, but Refuses to Identify him, The Spokesman-Review

Should Universities Sever Ties with ICE?, Inside Higher Ed

Christian Refugees Admitted to US Down More Than 50% Under Trump, The Guardian

Asylum Seekers Accuse US Guards of Cracking Down on Hunger Strike: Lawsuit, Reuters

Amid Immigration Uproar, Trump Keeps mum on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Pacific Standard

‘I Don’t Think it’s Appropriate.’ Judge Disagrees with ICE Arrest at Fresno Courthouse, The Fresno Bee

Orange Sheriff, ICE Square off over Release of Inmates in US Illegally, WRAL

Immigrant After Being Reunited with son: ‘It was the Hardest Thing to Ever Happen’, CNN

Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Border Policy is Actually More Like ‘50% Tolerance’, Quartz

Washington – Appropriations Pushes Back on Trump, Census Lawsuit Moves Forward

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed an amendment that would prohibit funds for the Department of Homeland Security to be used to implement the Justice Department’s guidance against allowing victims of domestic and gang violence to effectively claim asylum. The measure was introduced by Rep. David Price, a Democrat from North Carolina, and received some support from colleagues across the aisle. The Hill

Among the Republicans who supported that amendment was Rep. Kevin Yoder from Kansas, who also pushed a plan to increase per-country caps on green cards to reduce the backlog faced by applicants from countries such as India and China. He voted in favor of opening a probe into the family separation policies at the border and legislation that would limit when separations can take place, a measure of how much some moderate Republicans have strayed from the president’s view on immigration. McClatchy D.C.

This comes in the wake of polls that show that voters in battleground districts are more likely to blame the GOP, not Democrats, for the family separation fiasco. Houston Public Media

A federal judge in Manhattan gave the go-ahead for the continuation of a lawsuit brought by several states and municipalities challenging the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. While the judge rejected the claim that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did not have the authority to include the question, he agreed that statements by President Donald Trump indicated that the decision could have been partly motivated by animus against immigrants. The New York Times

Felipe De La Hoz

Reporter at Documented.



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